Book Review: Orphanology

“The gospel and adoption are beautifully woven together by the gracious hand of God. In Christ, God has shown His love to us as our Father. He has reached down His hand of mercy to us in the loneliness of our sin, and He has raised us up as members of His family. Consequently, one of the clearest displays of the gospel in this life is when redeemed men and women extend a hand of mercy to children in need and bring them into their families.”

What are you doing with the gospel mandate found in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”?  This is the same question that my husband Clint and I had to ask ourselves a few years ago.  We live the pretty happy suburban life with our 3 year old daughter as we drive one of our two SUV’s back and forth from wherever we are eating out or shopping back to our big house in the subdivision.  Clint and I firmly believe that God has called us to make a difference for Him..for our family to truly impact the world for Christ.  We don’t believe it is a sin to have a lot, but we do believe it is a sin not to share that with those in need.  It was with that conviction that we have begun the process to adopt a baby boy from Ethiopia.  We started the process back in November of 2010.  It hasn’t been easy and we don’t have our son yet, but God has already used this experience to teach us what true love is all about.  Most of the lessons have come from the words spoken by our 3 year old daughter as she looks forward to bringing her brother home.

Tony Merida and Rick Morton have done an incredible job of teaching what it means to truly love others through the ministries of adoption, foster care, and orphan hosting.  They have shared a variety of their own experiences and others that they know in an effort to illustrate that everyone can be engaged on some level.  As they put it, “Orphan care is an act of mercy that flow from the heart of one who has been changed by the gospel.”

I appreciated that Merida and Morton shared their own stories and gave voice to many others, but the most important part of this book is the way that Scripture is woven throughout.  This is not about any one person’s experience, this is about the gospel permeating the heart of a family in such a way as to cause them to live out their faith with reckless abandon for the glory of God and the good of others.

Below I have pasted some things that I highlighted while reading…

  • Adoption was an expression in our lives of the gospel in our hearts.
  • The gospel and adoption are beautifully woven together by the gracious hand of God. In Christ, God has shown His love to us as our Father. He has reached down His hand of mercy to us in the loneliness of our sin, and He has raised us up as members of His family. Consequently, one of the clearest displays of the gospel in this life is when redeemed men and women extend a hand of mercy to children in need and bring them into their families.
  • If there is a running theme through Orphanology, it’s that Rick and I are calling for an awakening to the key answer for reaching the world’s orphans: gospel-centered adoption and orphan care.
  • Adoption is a real-life illustration of the gospel. It shows us how God transforms spiritual orphans into family members. He changes our names, identities, and families by His grace. Orphan care is an act of mercy that flow from the heart of one who has been changed by the gospel.
  • The deepest and strongest foundation for adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. And this act is not part of his ordinary providence in the world; it is at the heart of the Gospel. John Piper, “Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel”
  • Of course, the greater work of grace is not our adoption of kids, but God’s adoption of us, through Jesus Christ. Traveling to another country to adopt is one thing, but for God to leave heaven for earth and adopt sinners is an act of amazing grace.
  • I long for the new heaven and new earth, when orphanages are no longer necessary.
  • J. I. Packer says, “Adoption is the highest privilege of the Gospel; higher even than justification.”
  • “[We] who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).
  • As ambassadors of Christ, we must stand in the gap for these helpless children.
  • When it comes to caring for the people on God’s heart, indifference is a sin. —Tom Davis, Fields of the Fatherless
  • We must value what God values, and love what He loves.
  • Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home. —Psalm 68:5
  • Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. —Isaiah 1:17–18
  • Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. —Proverbs 31:9
  • Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. —James 1:27
  • Let’s reflect the redeeming nature of God’s mercy by obediently caring for the orphan in radical Christ-honoring ways, thereby avoiding the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.
  • Adoption is not just about couples who want children— or who want more children. Adoption is about an entire culture within our churches, a culture that sees adoption as part of our Great Commission mandate and as a sign of the gospel itself. —Russell D. Moore, Adopted for Life
  • Leaders must embody the vision they proclaim.
  • Piper said, “All adoption and all orphan care by Christians—by those who are justified by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Christ alone—is done by faith.” Like everything else we do in life after we come to Jesus in surrender and repentance, adoption is an act of faith. The “right” answer is that we adopt as an outworking of our faith, no more and no less.
  • God has called us to be a defender of the defenseless because that is who He is. We are returning worship to God when we show His character to the world by championing the cause of the least of these.
  • God had to lead us to one of those Numbers 13 kinds of moments. We were either going to be the spies that saw the promised land with all of its challenges and still trusted God to lead us forward, or we were going to be the spies who saw orphan hosting as a good thing that was just too difficult for us.
  • Promise 139. Our objective was simple. We wanted to use hosting orphans from around the world as a means for sharing hope with them from the seven promises found in Psalm 139:
    1. God knows me. (v. 1)
    2. God knows where I go. (vv. 2 and 3)
    3. God knows my thoughts. (v. 4)
    4. God has put His hand on me. (v. 5)
    5. God is always with me. (vv. 7–12)
    6. God has made me. (vv. 13 and 14)
    7. God has made me unique. (v. 15)
  • Realize, then, how significant it is that the Biblical writers introduce God as a ‘father to the fatherless, a defender of widows’ (Psalms 68:4-5). This is one of the main things he does in the world. He identifies with the powerless, he takes up their cause.

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